Moderator: Tom Houlihan
The Russian front was torn open by this courageous attack by 1 Inf.Div. and 5 Pz.Div, which was standing ready, thrust further forward under the outstanding leadership of Oberst Herzog in an inexorable attack between the Kobbelbuder forest and the railway line to Pillau. The success was so great that 5 Pz.Div's spearheads reached Seerappen in the evening hours, already a penetration of some 10km in the enemy front. But however great the success of the two courageous divisions was, the wedge driven into the enemy gront was comparatively small. The panzer division had gradually deployed all its forces and had to guard against powerful enemy counter-atacks against its flanks. The greatest danger was that the Kobbelbuder forest was still full of Russian troops, who could break through the extended left flank of 5 Pz.Div. with a powerful thrust. Everything now depended on how to proceed to a resolution, with a further attack by the still to be deployed 561 VG.Div. through the Kobbelbuder Forest to widen the hole that had been made in the front, or to replace 5 Pz.Div. in its positions with 561 VG.Div. and thus free the panzer division for a fresh attack towards the Samland front. The latter option was undoubtedly bolder, but also carried a great risk, if the Russians were to carry out a counter-attack towards Metgethen with their powerful forces in the Kobbelbuder forest, through the extended left flank of the attacking wedge. During discussion of these fateful options with my chief of staff and the 1a of 5 Pz.Div, I received unexpected help in the shape of my 1c. He reported that he had just intercepted a Russian radio message, in which the Russian commanding general advised one of his division commanders in the Kobbelbuder forest to move his HQ as soon as possible to Kondehnen. If this radio order wasn't a deliberate deception, one had to conclude that the Russians were pulling back their front in the Kobbelbuder forest in view of the dangers of the general situation. Our immediate decision that during the night, 561 VG.Div. would replace 5 Pz.Div, and that the panzer division would make a new attack the next day, was successfully executed. Despite powerful enemy interventions, 561 VG.Div, through the excellent mobile leadership of its commander, General Gorn, was able smoothly to replace 5 Pz.Div. in the line. After resupply, 5 Pz.Div. attacked in the early hours of the morning of 20 Feb in a remorseless thrust, and during the course of the day established contact with the Samland forces. At the same time, units of Division Mikosch and 1 Inf.Div. succeeded in clearing the remaining Russian troops from the Kobbelbuder forest and establishing contact themselves with the Samland forces.
The attack on Metgethen was the last great feat of arms on East Prussian soil. It bore witness to the unbroken fighting spirit of the Königsberg garrison. Troops and their commanders were aware of the importance of re-establishing contact with the port of Pillau and gave their best efforts. The young soldiers from Königsberg displayed particular spirit, and when a comrade compared them with the heroes of Langemarck, he was not exaggerating.
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